David Gauke: Ex-Tory Cabinet minister to stand as independent candidate at general election

Sean Morrison
David Gauke arrives in Downing Street: EPA

Ex-Tory Cabinet minister David Gauke has announced he will stand as an independent candidate at the general election on December 12.

The former Justice Secretary, who had the whip removed in September after backing plans to block no deal, said he would contest the South West Hertfordshire seat he has held since 2005.

Mr Gauke endorsed calls for a second referendum as he announced the move, saying there was no longer any chance of uniting the country around a "relatively soft Brexit".

He told The Times: "I represent a form of liberal Conservatism, but the last few months have been increasingly uncomfortable... The principle issue of this General Election is Brexit and I think that the Conservative Party has got it badly wrong.

"The easy thing to do would be to go quietly but I feel that I have to make a stand and make the case that we are heading towards an outcome that we will deeply regret."

Mr Gauke was one of 21 MPs kicked out of the Tory party in September after they backed a plan to take control of the Commons timetable to pass legislation to block a no-deal Brexit.

He did not have the whip restored, and speculation over whether he would stand as an independent candidate in his seat has been rife.

His decision - coupled with his backing of a second referendum - will put pressure on the Liberal Democrats to stand their candidate down in the constituency.